Freedom and Plenitude in Medieval Arguments for the Existence of God

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Amichay, Suf 

This dissertation traces the story of the reception, adaptation and ultimately rejection of Aristotelian science in the Abrahamic societies of the middle ages. It traces this story by analysing medieval arguments for the existence of God in Hebrew, Latin and Arabic. Each of these arguments is underpinned by a particular scientific worldview. The premises of the arguments express scientific views about the way things are, either physically or metaphysically. These arguments are often the culmination of scientific theory at the time of their composition. Through them we learn about the different theories of the roles medieval thinkers assigned to God and nature.

The dissertation provides a rigorous analysis of the largest collection of arguments for the existence of God studied so far, and the first collection of arguments from all three traditions. The dissertation’s main claim is that due to an incompatibility of the Aristotelian system with Abrahamic religions, in both its Arabic and Latin reception, the traditions followed the same path of reception, adaptation and rejection of the system. I argue that this is due to the incompatibility of the Principle of Plenitude, the constitutive element of Aristotelian science, with the Abrahamic concept of God as an omnipotent, free agent.

Marenbon, John Alexander
Arguments for the Existence of God, History of Science, medieval, Medieval Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Awarding Institution
University of Cambridge